Plavix and Aspirin Combo Poses Serious Risk of Bleeding: Study

The commonly used combination of Plavix and aspirin may expose patients to a higher risk of bleeding than previously believed, according to the findings of a new study. 

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released the results of a study on the side effects of Plavix and aspirin when combined to help fight blood clots, a tactic known as dual antiplatelet therapy (DAT).

The study was published on Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, and determines that there is a clinically significant risk of hemorrhaging when the drugs are used together that doctors and patients need to recognize and anticipate.

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CDC researchers compared the rate of incidents from acute hemorrhaging from DAT to those related to another antiplatelet drug called Warfarin. They found an estimated 7,654 emergency department visits every year for hemorrhage-related adverse events from DAT, compared to 60,575 emergency department visits from Warfarin bleeding incidents. However, the bleeding side effects of Warfarin are well-established. Once the researchers adjusted for the rate of prescriptions they found that the rate of emergency department visits due to acute hemorrhages from Plavix and aspirin combined was 1.2 per 1,000 outpatient prescription visits, compared to 2.5 per 1,000 for Warfarin.

The researchers determined that the bleeding risk from DAT was clinically significant, and recommended that the risks be better communicated to doctors and patients.

Plavix (clopidogrel) is a blood thinner that prevents blood platelets from sticking together to form clots. It is prescribed to prevent heart attacks, strokes and blood clotting when drug coated stents are used in patients with arteriosclerosis and in other at-risk patients. It is a blockbuster medication, generating annual sales of over $9 billion for Bristol Myers Squibb Co. and Sanofi-Aventis.

A number of Plavix lawsuits have been filed on behalf of individuals throughout the country who say that Plavix makers promoted the expensive medication as a safer alternative to aspirin. However, they allege that in actuality, the drug may provide no benefits over taking aspirin alone and side effects of Plavix could actually increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, gastrointestinal bleeding, severe ulcers and a rare blood disorder known as TTP, or thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpora.


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